Fran Santagata

C l a s s     o f     1 9 7 2

    

 

     

In Hicksville High Also Known As (AKA):

Same

Spouse/Partner…

Michael Hruza

Were you classmates at HHS?

No

Where did you meet?  How long ago?

Michael and I met in 1988 at the Denver Bicycle Touring Club.  We were both members.  At a meeting, I asked for members to join me in planning a fundraising bikeathon for the American Diabetes Association.  I was the lead planner/volunteer.  We became fast friends planning the event & bike riding around Colorado .  Michael was in the Air Force at the time.  We dated for a while, but he was then PCS’d to Germany and we lost touch.  Ten years later, he retired from the Air Force and looked me up on Valentine’s Day 2001.  We had a friendly conversation but made no plans at that point. In August of 2001, he called me again and asked to meet.  Then 9-11 happened and everything changed.  I was offered a job back in DC with a company that supported DoD and DOJ to assist in fighting terrorism.  My interview with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) was on the same day he came over to University Hospital Anschutz Campus to see me again.  We knew that were in love, but I was definitely going to DC- my Country was calling me. Michael understood- I moved out first in December 2001, and Michael followed me in May.

Married How Long?  Date Married:

We got married on Sept 11th, 2002, after the remembrance ceremony at the Pentagon.  I was working there at the time, rewriting their Chem/Bio.Nuc/Rad Plans for the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense.  I asked how they would feel about us getting married on that Day, as a way to take the day back, and they were thrilled with the idea.  The Chaplain said it was going to be a tough day and this would be a bright spot to look forward to.  It was a small ceremony- everyone needed to have a security clearance but unbelievable in its significance for us.  We did a re-enactment for our families on Oct. 11th at my brother’s house in Ringwood NJ .

Children/Grandchildren:

One stepson Josh, and two grandchildren Ben and Allison

Where do you currently live?

See the source image

Roxborough Colorado .  We moved back to Colorado in 2005 when our Governor asked me to be his Special Assistant for Homeland Security.

Favorite Subject in High School:

Matière préférée au lycée:

French

Name of my Favorite Teacher:

Madame Dr. Kumpikas

Favorite Place to meet Friends Outside of School:

Wickers

Favorite Non-Academic School Club or Activity:
 

Swimming, bike riding

Occupation/Trade/Profession:
See the source image

Homeland Security Professional

 

Education Beyond High School :

BS Medical Technology

MS Exercise Physiology

Both from CW Post

 

Military Service:

None

 

Hobbies/Pastimes:

Spending time with Michael and Rocky (my Akita and running partner), Bike riding, hiking, reading, and snowshoeing.

 

I fell in love with Colorado from my bicycle seat. I have traveled more of Colorado on my bicycle than in my car. I have traveled over Trail Ridge Road twice on my bike- the highest continuous auto road in the country at 12,200 ft. Michael and I have hiked so many trails in national parks as well as county and state parks. Snowshoeing is my favorite winter sport. Any trail you can hike, you can snowshoe. In 2005 we moved to Roxborough which is paradise. We back up to the open space and foothills. We have amazing views from our deck- tons of wildlife: deer, elk, black bears, eagles, falcons, hawks & great blue herons. I don’t actually have to drive anywhere to get to a trail- we are surrounded by Roxborough State Park , Waterton Canyon (lots of bighorn sheep), Chatfield State Park , and the Highline Canal Trail. We take full advantage of our location. After work this time of year, I love sitting on my swing out on our patio with a book enjoying the beauty and serenity that is Roxborough.

 

One thing that no one knows about me is:

I have been running long distances for about 40 years.

I calculated that I have run about the distance of the circumference of the earth

 

Now the hard one.  Tell us what we need to know…50 years in the space below:

After High School, I fell in love with a classmate

Tom Reilly.  I had originally planned to attend SUNY Oneonta as a French major.  All that changed when we decided to get married.  I needed to plan a more practical path so switched majors to medical technology.  Tommy and I got married in 1974 and I started working at

Central General as a med tech.  Though our marriage did not last, our friendship did.  We both moved on.  In 1984 I decided I wanted to change career fields to exercise physiology working in rehabilitation.  I went back and got my MS- started working at Island Cardiac in Plainview while still a Med Tech at Central General.

 

By 1987 I was ready to make a big move to Colorado , where I had spent all my vacations hiking and biking for years.  I moved out and worked as an exercise physiologist for 15 years.  The market caved in on my field (due to changing insurance reimbursements) so I went back to school to expand my skills and focus on HAZMAT compliance and emergency response. I interned with a local fire department in the HAZMAT Division and got my EMT certification.  I was then asked to join a Federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT)/National Medical Response Team-Weapons of Mass Destruction (NMRT) where I served as their Admin officer.  This was a volunteer team.  Our sponsor was University Hospital in Denver .  Our liaison at the hospital offered me a position as the Hospital Safety Officer/Emergency Manager in 1997.  I reshaped the program there to include plans for mass casualty response and Chem/bio/nuc/rad response.  This was fortuitous as we were a receiving hospital for the Columbine massacre, and we were ready.

 

Then 9-11 happened and the Anthrax attacks.  Again, we were ready.  I had already started working part-time for SAIC the Summer before 9-11 preparing SLC for the 2002 Olympics.  Immediately after 9-11, SAIC hired me to work on public health/medical preparedness and WMD response on contracts with DoD (Pentagon), US HHS, and DOJ. In 2003 the Dept of Homeland Security stood up and I was offered a position as a Preparedness Officer responsible for five western states including CO.  In 2005 Governor Owens asked me to come back to CO as his Special Assistant.  After his term ended, I took a position as the Administrator for the Denver Urban Area Security Initiative (a regional homeland security program for the Denver metro area).  4 years later, the Sheriff of my county (Douglas) asked me to be his Director of Emergency Management. Since wildfires were a major concern for my county I became certified as a wildland firefighter II at age 54. I did this for 4 years and was then offered a position as the Preparedness Program Manager for the State of CO .

 

7 years later, I have come full circle to my HAZMAT Compliance focus.  I accepted a position back with the US DHS/Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program as a Regulatory Analyst.  It has been an amazing journey to get here, and I absolutely love this program, the team, and the work. It will be the best “swan song” I could have imagined.  I will be retiring on June 30th after 50 years of service taking care of patients and securing the country.

 

All through the career twists and turns, Michael has been at my side- he is my rock and my joy.  My stepson Josh, his wife Amanda, and my two grandkids have brought an amazing dimension to my life for which I am so grateful.  Lastly, my own family, Mom & Dad my brothers

   

Bob (class of 1969) and Steve (class of 1980), and sister Anita (class of 1975)

taught me the meaning of family, the importance of those family ties- how they are the foundation of who we become later in life.

 

I am truly blessed…

 

Finally, if you had to do it all over again, I would…

Not change a thing- I am exactly where I am supposed to be with exactly who I am supposed to be with!